Orlando Shooting Sparks Debate Regarding Limits on Blood Donations from Gay Men
After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, blood banks from the surrounding areas put out a call for donors. Gay men were ready and willing to donate but were unable to unless they were celibate for the 12 previous months because of a ban imposed by FDA. For some time now, gay rights activists have argued that the ban perpetuates the stigma of being gay. The largest mass shooting in the United States brought attention to the topic and some felt that it added “insult to this nightmare” (Mcneil, 2016).
The FDA holds that their restriction is based on science and that the policy is the same in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK (Firger, 2016). The FDA also estimates that currently, 1 in 1.5 million blood donations transmits HIV to a recipient and that removing the ban would change this to one in 375,000 donations. The window period for transmission, or when a test will give an accurate result, of HIV is nine to eleven days, but this is for a typical patient and under the most exhaustive testing (Mcneil, 2016). Gay rights advocates argue that much more blood would be available if those who are in monogamous relations, take drugs to prevent HIV transmission, and always use condoms were allowed to donate (Firger, 2016). They maintain that the risks of infection would be low enough to be acceptable if combined with testing, and that the risks would be considerably more acceptable during a crisis like the Orlando shooting.
Firger, Jessica. "WILL THE FDA’S POLICY ON BLOOD DONATION FROM GAY MEN CHANGE AFTER THE ORLANDO MASSACRE?" Newsweek. Accessed June 24, 2016. http://www.newsweek.com/orlando-massacre-fda-blood-donation-ban-gay-men-470226.
Mcneil, Donald G. "Orlando Shooting Renews Debate Over Limits on Gay Men Donating Blood." The New York Times. 2016. Accessed June 25, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/16/health/orlando-shooting-renews-debate-over-limits-on-gay-men-donating-blood.html?rref=collection/sectioncollection/health.